Actress Lucy Liu Shares Her Travel Essentials and Top Tips for Vacationing With Kids

Lucy Liu

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Lucy Liu has played many roles in her decades-long career in film and television. From the cold but wickedly entertaining Ling Woo on Ally McBeal to the kickass Alex in "Charlie’s Angels" to O-Ren Ishii in the Kill Bill films and recently as Dr. Joan Watson on hit CBS series Elementary. But her latest role as busy mom who travels with her 6 -year-old son, Rockwell, seems to suit her best.

The Queens native has great hacks for children when it comes to traveling whether it is by car, on an international flight or even just a walk to the New York Public Library, that don’t include just sticking them in front of a screen. Travel + Leisure recently caught up with Liu at an event for the new American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card which the 53-year-old has partnered with the credit card company on to talk about all things travel. 

T+L: What is the best trip you went on recently? 

We recently went to the Bahamas. It was a great trip — it's lots of fun for the kids of all ages. Shared experiences with friends and other families are the best, plus great weather.

T+L: Can you describe your mindset when it comes to travel? Do you try to plan everything or are you more go-with-the-flow?

I try to organize the packing aspect because I hate overpacking and not having space for fun things we pick up on our travels. Once I get to my destination I go with the flow. I think when you over-plan a trip it gets really exhausting and you end up needing to take a break from the vacation. You don't have to see everything in that city your first visit, just enjoy! Enjoying the food and the culture and the environment for me is really the key to traveling.

T+L: Did you like taking your son to places you went to when you grew up in NY?

Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, the Natural History Museum - very kid-friendly places I now get to see with fresh eyes through him. Also one of my favorite places I love going to is any New York Public Library. It’s  always heaven and my son loves having the option of choosing his own books – gives him a real sense of agency and independence. I also get to explore what his new interests are with his selections. 

T+L: What are your go-to tips for traveling with kids?

Download a lot of audio books to keep them busy so they’re not staring at a screen for hours. I bring a thin travel journal for drawing and a multi-colored pen so [Rockwell] can be creative without having a ton of supplies rolling off the tray table. Pack headsets, a sweatshirt and lots of snacks. 

If I go to a warm weather location, I pack swim trunks, a rash guard, sunscreen and a sunhat in a small waterproof bag and stick it in my knapsack or carry on so when I arrive at the hotel, I don’t have to rummage through my luggage and [we] can just go straight to the water and release some of that pent up energy.  

T+L: Do you have any go-to products you have to take with you either for a long plane ride or for when you are traveling?

Beauchamp hand lotion, Yu-be, or Aquaphor – I love all the products [that are] ] hydrating! I love having audiobooks to listen to on the plane and I bring a little stainless steel thermos to fill it with hot or cold drinks. I also always bring a scarf and a baseball hat.

T+L: When you are on the plane do you mostly sleep, watch movies, do work?

I do it all! If I’m tired, I sleep, I don’t try to stay up to fight jet lag when I land. I also love working on planes because I can focus and not get distracted. But sometimes it’s great to relax and watch a movie — depending on how long the flight is.

 T+L: What do you usually wear on the plane? Do you have a plane uniform?

I definitely have a plane uniform. In the summer, a sundress with pockets and I pair it with white sneakers. I bring a jacket and scarf for the plane just in case it’s cold. In the winter, I love layering. T-shirt with jeans, pair of boots, and a lightweight fitted jacket and a heavier coat over that. 

 T+L: Do you have any great tips for beating jet lag?

Hydrate with water and if possible, with electrolytes or have coconut water (I like the Harmless coconut water brand or the real thing!). Go vegetarian and give your body a break from processing heavy proteins which take longer to digest either before or after you fly then go back to what you enjoy.

T+L: Any credit card tips or tricks to make traveling easier? 

With the Blue Cash Every Day Card, you spend money on essentials so you can save money for the things you really want to spend time on, like more adventures with family. I buy what I need for family and home and then put the money I save towards something fun. Saving time by ordering online instead of going to the store or running errands is something that adds time to my day which I need!

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